My friend of nearly twenty years was flabbergasted at the sight of my miniature coffee tattoo when we went for, well, coffee two weeks ago. You only notice this baby now?, relying on the premise that I had absolutely told her when I had it done three years ago. After long deliberation, quirks and some memory lapses confessions, she and I finally settled that I did, in fact, forget to mention it. It is gorgeous, she rejoiced. You know what you should do? Add a miniature cigarette right beside it. Yes. Coffee and cigarettes — my morning ritual. For me, the soul mates per excellence; and my faithful associates for every piece I have ever written. For every great piece I have ever written. I will never give up coffee, I giggled. That is forever; until my skin turns to dust. But I cannot get a cigarette tattooed, especially that I plan to quit. Completely. I failed until now, sure, but it will happen. One day. Then, she said something that still makes me stare into nothingness today — and smile. Well, even if — when you do quit, and the joyful agony -- or agonizing joy -- of a lit cigarette will only be but a beautiful memory... Notwithstanding, you still loved it, didn’t you? And you will still love it even though you stopped. Ultimately, you cannot regret a part and time of your life, even if it does not last.
I never believed in love at first sight until, of course, it happened to me. Truth of the matter is that it still is a crazy concept in my eyes despite the reality that I am a living proof of its existence. It was the night I was not supposed to leave the comfort of my home. More importantly, it was the night I did not feel like going out at all; but the ever-lasting withholding dance with my posse, naturally, resulted in my defeat, Okay, one drink. We sat at the bar and I forced myself to have fun which, almost unconsciously, I did end up having. Pretty good company breeds good; and even though the one drink policy is, as everyone knows, the biggest lie we will ever tell ourselves; that night, I stayed true to my word. Well... Almost. I was ready to pay and head out when my friend, due to the loud music, shouted it my ear, Turn around, the man of your dreams is standing right behind you. I rolled my eyes. Come on. But turn, I did. And God knows I have not stopped spinning ever since.
The moment I locked eyes with him is that one thing that still makes me stare into nothingness today — and wonder. I knew instantly that that millisecond would split my life into two; that from then on, there would be a before and an after. That I was done. That in this fucking crazy world, there is that One person that you can — and will — love ’til death do me part. This fateful moment got tattooed on my heart on a crisp autumn night ten years ago. Ten years. In 1995, Before Sunrise, long before Before Sunset and Before Midnight rounded off the trilogy, breathed life into my ‘idea’ of love. It was filmed in Vienna. I lived in Vienna then. I see a connection there and trust that it is in my bones to have an inkling for momentous, yet eternal passionate love since then; but little did I know that I would go on well into adulthood and live my, somewhat, own version. Albeit that two days ago, he managed to convince me that we were, indeed, a little bit, yet an unmistakable rendition of Jesse and Celine. I giggled.
We all know that life itself is unlike any stupendous film, song, painting or epic poem. For all the right — and wrong — reasons, we know that we do not work. Routine betrays us. Values do not mesh. Visions differ. Real life does not do us any favour. We tried so many times over the past decade only to have, honestly, given up on the probability — or possibility — or hope that maybe, we do belong together somewhere down the road. Well... Almost. The first time we said good-bye was the hardest thing I ever had to go through because it felt all kinds of wrong granted that, in hindsight, of course it was the right thing to do. That is my definition of heartbreak: putting back pieces together that do not fit. Then, life happens -- as it should. As every Girl Code magazine would beckon, I kept reminding myself that he was not the right one. Thus, life happens as it should. You move on. And it is true that time wounds all heals. You can love again. You can get your heart broken again. Each time you think you can no longer recover from yet another disappointment, funnily enough, God has a fantastic way of pulling out a surprise.
But, but, but the thing is, the thing is, while experience, maturity, time -- all the rational things indubitably narrow everything down to life's most precious lesson: the art of letting go; still, if after the first time — and nth time, he and I still end up staying in each other's lives -- I do wish to ask even the most romantic or skilled wordsmith: what, in the end, is love? From where I am standing, I came to the conclusion that it is simply, utterly impossible to truly pin down what happens when one falls in love. Madly in love. Selflessly in love. I write. I tried. Just the same, I cannot find the right words that could explain why I love him. Still love him. Always have, and always will.
This is a journey that does not have the happy ending as we like to read them. Yet it still bottles something quite... spectacular. Arresting. Out of this world. It was love at first sight the very second I locked eyes with him. I knew it then, I know it now. He knows my soul and I know his. Essentially, there is little else that matters because at the end of the day, or when my skin will turn to dust, I will rest assured that I did love someone madly, unconditionally, beyond reason, beyond words in this lifetime. Ten years on, and forevermore. We are the love that steals from eternity. We are the kind that have lived different versions of ourselves through the years, but we always return to us laughing in our favourite spot, the Ex Bar. We are symbolic like that. My longtime friend's words still simmer in the back of my mind. Well, even if — when you do quit, notwithstanding, you still loved [him], didn’t you? You cannot regret a part and time of your life -- even less [the One you love], even if it does not last. Whilst not everyone can have a fairy tale, there are stories that can indeed still be magical. Ours is. The saying rings true. Some people live under your skin. I love my tattoos. Each time I look at the nine (and counting) of mine, I smile. I will never regret them, like I cannot regret the One tattooed on my heart, even if it did not last in the classic sense.
Usually, the books I pick up end up twice their size after I am done -- 'thickened' with notes, underlined passages, penned emoticons and if the read is that good -- countless pages marked by a folded corner. My favourite French Literature Professor once told me that the 'masterpieces' of your life are the books you can -- and will -- read again every couple of years. I guess I could not agree more. Whether you feel exactly the same or see it in a new perspective will not matter -- only the fact that you bookmarked it will. For writers, nothing is ephemeral. For writers, what makes you feel alive -- and write -- lives on forever.